ChangeProposals/thematicimages

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'alt text and description for Lady of Shalott example' change proposal


Summary

Do not make it non-conforming in HTML5 for authors to provide text alternatives for images considered to enhance the themes or subject matter of the page content. A claim that providing a text alternative in this case can be confusing or misleading is incorrect. A Claim that the image examples cited do not enhance the themes or subject matter of the page content is incorrect.

Rationale

Currently if an author considers that an image enhances the themes or subject matter of the page content it is not a conformance violation if they provide a text alternative. Removing this option would mean that authors could no longer create conforming HTML5 documents while providing text alternatives for people who cannot see an image, but would like to be provided with a text alternative for it, although the images significance may be tangental to the page content.This outcome does a dis-service to users with disabilities and goes against what many of them want.

In a recent survey of screen reader users they were asked the question: "If an image is used solely to enhance the mood or feel of a web page, I'd prefer that the image..."

59% of respondents replied "Be described by my screen reader" this percentage was higher when only those who required a screen reader to access the content, were taken into account.

While it has been generally accepted advice to provide a null alt text for these types of images,it has never been non conforming, and it is obvious from the results that a majority of the screen reader users surveyed would like to have text alternatives provided in this situation.

It has been claimed that providing a text alternative in this situation will be confusing, but no good reason as to why has been provided. The majority of graphical browsers provide an indication of the presence of an image along with the the alt text, when images are disabled or missing. Refer to alt and title content display in popular browsers for details. Only Firefox does not provide any indication of an images presence and it therefore may be confusing for sighted users who have images disabled, but this is a bug in Firefox not a reason to mandate that text alternatives cannot be provided for an image which enhances the themes or subject matter of the page content.

Screen readers such as JAWS, VoiceOver, NVDA provide an indication that an image is present so it is not understood how it would be confusing for users of these. They also provide navigation features so users can move from one image to the next in a page.


It has been claimed that the use the image in the example does not enhance the themes or subject matter of the page content.

It is very difficult to understand how an image of a painting with the same name as the poem that is described as "illustrating" the poem, its subject matter derived from the poem and depicting a scene from a particular part of the poem [2], is not an image that enhances the theme and subject matter of a page whose main content is the poem "the lady of shalott".

It should be noted that there is a bug stating an objection to allowing authors to NOT provide a text alternative for an image enhances the themes or subject matter of the page content.

Details

  1. no change to the text in http://dev.w3.org/html5/alt-techniques/
  2. modify A purely decorative image that doesn't add any information so that it reflects the advice contained in 5. A purely decorative image that doesn't add any information and add advice contained in 6. Images that enhance the themes or subject matter of the page content as its is a use case that is not defined in the spec.

Impact

Positive Effects

  • Allows authors to provide a text alternative for an image enhances the themes or subject matter of the page content in conforming HTML5 document.

Negative Effects

  • adds length to the HTML5 spec
  • makes authors work a bit harder to provide text alternatives

Conformance Classes Changes

unknown